Except Renee O'Connor, of course, who is unapologetically the comic relief. I don't find her annoying in the least, partly because of her superb comic timing and her chemistry with Lucy Lawless, but mostly because of the REAL strength of the show: the writing.
I didn't want to start enjoying Xena because I couldn't see how the writers could keep it up. How long before the jokes become stale, the plots grow repetative, and the fight scenes start repeating themselves? That's still a danger (and I'm sure after six years it got a little old), but thanks to their incredible creative freedom -- drawing willy-nilly from a wealth of classical mythology, license to tweak each episode's tone as they see fit -- it's still surprising me. One minute Xena is a fearsome warrior, and the next she's the "straight man" for some silly merchant or bard.
The strength of the show -- for me -- is its variety. Otherwise each episode would consist of the following elements (sadly enough of them DO follow this formula):
- Xena and Gabrielle arrive in the middle of a conflict which consists of either "powerful evil character versus powerless peasants" or "two powerful characters fight each other without regard for the damage done to the powerless peasants."
- Xena and Gabrielle get separated for whatever reason.
- Xena must prove that she is really trying to help. She usually does this by fighting the "good character" and then refusing to kill him when she wins.
- Gabrielle falls in with a hunky guy/soulmate.
- When Xena and Gabrielle are finally reunited, there's a huge fight based around some new gimmick.
- After the fight, everybody apologizes to Xena for doubting her, and Gabrielle looks sad as her guy either dies or is forced to leave.
- The Moral Is Announced. A joke is made at the moral's expense.
I still don't really CARE what happens next -- it's mainly a good thing to watch while I'm eating dinner -- but I'm genuinely liking the show, and hopefully I'll continue to like it as it goes on.